With permission from a local road agency, researchers in Michigan hacked into nearly 100 wirelessly networked traffic lights, highlighting security issues that they say are likely to pervade networked traffic infrastructure around the country. More than 40 states currently use such systems to keep traffic flowing as efficiently as possible, helping to reduce emissions and delays.The article illustrates one of those primitive hung-from-a-cable in the middle of the crossing lights Michigan inherited from Ransom E. Olds, but on an early summer trip across the lake, I was pleased to see some lights that appeared to be timed (something only Rockford gets in Illinois) or featuring the flashing yellow for a left (which will happen in Illinois just after an honest Democrat becomes mayor of Chicago). But the software is vulnerable.
After gaining access to one of the controllers in their target network, the researchers were able to turn all lights red or alter the timing of neighboring intersections—for example, to make sure someone hit all green lights on a given route.The simplest fix: change the passwords for the network. (There has to be a better way than passwords). Other research might be necessary, before a priority-traffic app shows up in the shadows of the Internet of Things.